- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

Note: David R. Sands is on assignment. The following is a reprint of a column first published June 21, 2003. Zugzwang is the well-known phenomenon in chess in which the player with the move would be just as happy to pass. The position on the board may hold no particular danger, but any move the player in zugzwang makes invariably makes things worse. Pure zugzwangs (German for “compulsion to move”) are seen most often in simplified endings, in which a king must give way or a pawn advance to its doom. But there are more positional variations of the basic idea in which one player finds his pieces frozen by his opponent’s pressure. There are moves to be made but no way to stave off the inevitable. Reigning U.S. champion GM Alexander Shabalov of Pittsburgh gave a textbook illustration of the latter case in a critical last-round game against young Canadian master Mark Bluvshtein at the 12th annual Chicago Open last month. The win allowed “Shabba” to ease into the winner’s circle alone with a fine 61/2-1/2 score. This line of the Advanced French, in which Black closes the queen-side with 6…c4, can lead to some highly blocked positions, and that’s just what happens here. Bluvshtein concedes his opponent a space advantage but gets some nice compensation in his pressure on the backward White b-pawn. But 24. g4 g6 25. Rbe1 Rff8, Black appears to be making good progress: White has to keep his eye on the b-pawn as well as on the coming pawn breaks on the king-side, where his own king resides. But a moment’s inattention allows Shabalov, a superb tactician, to completely change the game’s equation. Thus: 26. g5 Qb6? (see diagram; wanting to get the queen away from the masked attack of the fianchettoed bishop is understandable, but Black should have been keeping an eye on d5) 27. Bxd5! exd5 28. Nxd5 Qe6 29. Nxe7 Qxe7 30. d5. White has two pawns for the bishop, but those two are connected central passers, while White’s major pieces suddenly enjoy great maneuvering room behind the advancing phalanx. The positional zugzwang arises on 35. Re6 Qd7 36. Rde2, when Black’s queen, two rooks and bishop are all completely occupied with the chore of restraining the White pawns. While they are distracted, Shabalov administers the elegant tactical knockout: 41. Qb6 (less effective is 41. Qxh8? Rxh8 42. e8=Q+ Rxe8 43. Rxe8+ Ka7 44. R2e7 Qh3 45. h7 Qg3+ with a perpetual check) Kb8 42. R2e4 Kc8 43. Qc5+ Kb8 44. Rxa6! (fatally exposing the Black king) bxa6 45. Re6. White’s threat now is 46. Rb6+ Ka8 47. Rxa6+ Kb8 48. Qb6+ Qb7 49. Qd6+ Kc8 50. Rc6+, winning the queen. Black tries 45…Qc8 46. Rc6 Qb7, but it’s over on 47. Rb6 (Qd6+ Ka7 48. Rc7 was marginally more efficient, but White’s move is also winning) Rxe7 48. Rxb7+ Rxb7 49. Kg2 Rd8 50. Qxc4 Rc7 51. Qxf4 Rxd5 52. h7 Rh5 53. Qb4+. Since 53…Ka7 54. h8=Q! Rxh8 55. Qd4+ hits both the rook and the king, Bluvshtein resigned. • • • A slightly more conventional zugzwang arose in Georgian GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili’s recent bishop-and-pawn ending win over Slovenian GM Dusko Pavasovic. The 43-year-old “Azmai” scored one of the best results of his long career by winning the 4th Individual European Men’s Championships in Silivri, Turkey. With 19…Nc4 20. Bd4 e5, Azmaiparashvili as Black has solved all his opening problems and may have a slight edge. White’s 23. a4!? (Re1 b6 24. Be3 Nxe3 25. Rxe3 f5 is pleasant for Black, too) kicks the annoying bishop on b5, but the a-pawn is weak and falls on 25. Rd1 (a5 Rd5) Rxd1+ 26. Qxd1 Bf6 (and not 26…Nxb2?? 27. Qd8+ Bf8 28. Qxf8 mate) 27. Qe2 Qxa4. Pavasovic’s 28. Qg4 poses problems for Black, pinning the knight on c4 and threatening an annoying check on c8, but Azmaiparashvili has the answer in 28…Nb6! 29. Bxb6 Qxb3 30. Qc8+ Kg7, when the Black b-pawn is indirectly protected by a pin after 31. Qxb7? Bd8. A pawn up in a difficult ending, Black makes an inspired choice with 34. c4 Qe6! 35. Qxe6 fxe6, allowing his prized king-side majority to be wrecked. White’s king and bishop are preoccupied with holding the center, and soon Pavasovic simply runs out of moves: 47. Bd2 Kh3 48. Be3 e5! (White can’t afford to fix Black’s pawns by exchanging) 46. b4 Kg2! 47. b5 axb5 51. cxb5 b6!, and rigor mortis has beset the White defense. White has no good pawn moves; he dares not trade bishops, and giving way with 52. Kd2 allows the decisive infiltration with 52…Kf3. White drops the f-pawn with 52. Bc1, but resigns before Azmaiparashvili can administer the kill. 12th Chicago Open, Chicago, May 2003 Shabalov Bluvshtein 1. e4 e6 28. Nxd5 Qe6 2. d4 d5 29. Nxe7 Qxe7 3. e5 c5 30. d5 Bd5 4. c3 Qb6 31. e6 Rd8 5. Nf3 Bd7 32. Qd4+ Ka8 6. a3 c4 33. Rd2 Qd6 7. h4 Nc6 34. e7 Rde8 8. g3 0-0-0 35. Re6 Qd7 9. Bh3 f5 36. Rde2 h6 10. Ng5 Nh6 37. Qb6 Kb8 11. Nd2 Na5 38. gxh6 f4 12. 0-0 39. f3 Ba6 13. Ndf3 Nb3 40. Qd4 Ka8 14. Rb1 Nxc1 41. Qb6 Kb8 15. Qxc1 Kb8 42. R2e4 Kc8 16. Bg2 Rc8 43. Qc5+ Kb8 17. Re1 a5 44. Rxa6 bxa6 18. Nd2 a4 45. Re6 Qc8 19. Nf1 Rcf8 46. Rc6 Qb7 20. Qf4 Ka7 47. Rb6 Rxe7 21. Ne3 Qc6 48. Rxb7+ Rxb7 22. Re2 Nf7 49. Kg2 Rd8 23. Nxf7 Rxf7 50. Qxc4 Rc7 24. g4 g6 51. Qxf4 Rxd5 25. Rbe1 Rff8 52. h7 Rh5 26. g5 Qb6 53. Qb4+ Black 27. Bxd5 exd5 resigns European Chess Championships, Silivri, Turkey, May 2003 Pavasovic Azmaiparashvili 1. e4 d6 27. Qe2 Qxa4 2. d4 Nf6 28. Qg4 Nb6 3. Nc3 g6 29. Bxb6 Qxb3 4. g3 Bg7 30. Qc8+ Kg7 5. Bg2 0-0 31. Bc5 h5 6. Nge2 Na6 32. Bb4 Qd1+ 7. h3 c5 33. Kh2 Qd5 8. Be3 cxd4 34. c4 Qe6 9. Nxd4 Nc7 35. Qxe6 fxe6 10. 0-0 d5 36. b3 e4 11. exd5 Nfxd5 37. Bc5 Be5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 38. Kg2 Kf6 13. Bc1 Nb6 39. Kf1 Kf5 14. c3 a6 40. Ke2 Bb2 15. Qe2 Qc7 41. Bb6 Ke5 16. Rd1 Re8 42. Bc5 Bd4 17. Nb3 Bd7 43. Bf8 Kf5 18. Be3 Bb5 44. Ba3 g5 19. Qc2 Nc4 45. Bc1 g4 20. Bd4 e5 46. hxg4+ Kxg4 21. Bc5 Rad8 47. Bd2 Kh3 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 48. Be3 e5 23. a4 Bc6 49. b4 Kg2 24. Bxc6 Qxc6 50. b5 axb5 25. Rd1 Rxd1+ 51. cxb5 b6 26. Qxd1 Bf6 52. Bc1 and White resigns David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]washington times.com.

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